Tips for Helping your Parents with FinancesThere are certain things I don’t look forward to as my parents age. They are in their mid-60s, so hopefully these things should still be many years from now. Nevertheless, I don’t look forward to telling them they should stop driving. I don’t want to be the one to tell them they need to move out of their house. And I don’t want to tell them they need to give up managing their finances.
Okay, so I’ve actually got that last one figured out. In fact, I have three tips to help you avoid the horrible situation where your parents are facing cognitive decline, but they won’t share any of their financial information with you.
- Start early. Start having conversations by the time your parents reach their early 70s. This way you can legitimately tell them you aren’t looking to control their finances. You want to learn about their investments, and their advisor(s), so that the family is ready for a time when they aren’t able to care for themselves.
- Offer continuity, not change. Don’t go into this trying to change anything. Work with their advisor. Don’t make a bunch of suggestions on day one. Start as an observer.
- Show a genuine interest in how they do things. Get to know their system. We all have systems. Don’t you dare try to change their system on day one, even if it’s backwards.
Those three tips should make the prospect of your parents sharing their finances less threatening. If you can convince them it’s their idea to start sharing this info, even better. I have found that if you wait until cognitive decline appears, it’s too late. At that point many parents are defensive and unlikely to ask for help, which is also when they are most vulnerable.